Two Girls? Happy Parents! Four Girls? DOOM!

7 years ago

According to a new study, researchers say that our family is kind of happy. Not as happy as a family with two girls or a family with a boy and a girl, but much more happy than my friend who has four girls. It has nothing to do about situational issues, personality types or how much coffee I’ve had in the morning. It has everything to do with the number of children I have and their gender.

The study says that families with two girls are happier. Families with four girls? Not so happy.

The breakdown lists those two-girl families on top and then stumbles through a slew of variation, usually listing any combination of all girls before any combination of all boys -- except for the doomed four girl family.

  • 1.Two girls
  • 2.One boy and one girl
  • 3.Two boys
  • 4.Three girls
  • 5.Three boys
  • 6.Four boys
  • 7.Two girls and one boy
  • 8.Two boys and one girl
  • 9.Three boys and one girl
  • 10.Three girls and one boy
  • 11.Two boys and two girls
  • 12.Four girls

They list a whole mess of reasons as to why the families with two girls have an easier time than families with four girls.

Benefits of Having Two Girls Negatives of Having Four Girls Rarely noisy Fight and argue all the time Help around the house Difficult to reason with Very few fights and arguments Ignore and dislike each other Quite easy to reason with Bedtime routine is a nightmare Play together nicely Create a lot of noise around the house Rarely ignore each other Rarely confide in you They confide in you Hard to deal with when ill Very well behaved Takes ages getting ready for school Rarely try to wind each other up Had to buy a bigger house and car Really like each other Hard to cope with on a daily basis

Some of those points seem kind of common sense and obvious to me. More children? Louder house! Less children? Quieter house! Four girls take a long time to get ready for school? No way! But some of it is interesting in ways that this research doesn’t quite address.

While I was in a one-girl/one-boy household, I did not confide in my parents. Does that mean four girls confide even less? Or, is it really based on parenting style, personality types of children and parents alike and an any-given-day type thing? I don’t know. I’d kind of like to find out if more children equates to less open and honest communication and, if so, how do we fix it. And if it doesn't, what does and what do we do about it? I think that would be a more beneficial study than saying, “Yep, families with four children sure are stressed.” Duh.

Some of the comparisons and points made me laugh. I won’t lie; our house -- which has two boys living under the roof -- is loud. Apparently two girl households are magically quieter, though after reading some buzz on Facebook, I am not actually believing that is 100% true. I’d also like to point out that my boys help out around the house (if you don’t count their tragically messy playroom), rarely ignore each other, confide in me (tattle-tails who even tell on themselves), really are quite well behaved and, yes, actually like each other. Most of time. But here’s the real kicker: We’re really happy. Noisy, yes. And if it rains for three straight days, we get kind of grumpy. But we’re happy.

Since I’m dealing with just one of the variations on parenting-number-themes presented in this study, I decided to see what moms were saying. As always anecdotal responses were far more interesting than the study itself. Nothing like seeing real human response with some juicy side stories!

Mandy at Four Against Two has, you might guess by her blog name, four children, all of whom are girls. (They're pictured above as she kindly let us use a photo for this piece!) She offers a unique perspective to this discussion as she went from the “ideal” family of two girls to four girls when they adopted sisters from Ethiopia.

My four girls. Meg, Mita, Enu and Elle. Sometimes they are four peas in a pod. Sometimes. Other times, I’ll be blunt here, most times they are a circus act. Hubby and I often say to ourselves, “They are so easy when there are only three of them. What is it when you add a fourth?” The funny thing is that it doesn’t matter who you take out of the equation, who has the play date away from home or is at a Girl Scout event. No matter what three girls are home, they get along better than when they are all four together. This has been a question we continue to ponder as we raise the girls.

Liz at This Full House talked about her family and how they ranked with three girls and one boy.

Of course, results are highly subjective, however, I was relieved to learn that parents, with four children of ANY gender, in general, found it harder, with meal times, mornings and the bedtime routines stated as being more difficult.

Well...DUH!...and I mean that in the most subjective way possible.

Jenny at Geek in Heels has two daughters and actually comes from a family of two daughters, so her thoughts on the matter were quite interesting.

Innnnn-teresting! As my readers know, I come from a family of two girls. And although my sister and I didn’t exactly have the best relationship growing up (we usually just ignored each other), we’ve certainly grown a lot closer over the years. And whilst my family may have been through some difficult times, I would definitely say that my parents are generally very happy with their lives and — not to toot our own horns — their daughters.

Ivory at The Trivial Pursuit of Happiness has three girls but sees more children at her table, so she took interest in the article. She's points out that chaos exists in every family.

Of course, then I read through the positives of having two daughters and recognized my children in each of those criteria as well. Looking over just this list is almost as laughable as the quote “Two girls rarely annoy their parents with too much noise, confide in their parents and are unlikely to wind each other up or ignore each other,” because this family does not exist. Every family has moments of harmony, but every family also has the chaotic, frenzied, “WHAT HAVE WE WROUGHT” moments, and the claim that the key to harmony is the right combination of children (something that we have no real control over) is at best laughable, and at worst cruel. Where is the accountability for parents, the compassion that not all children are “typical”, the joy in the unexpected?

So what do you think? List your how many children you have and their genders and then talk about how you think your family stacks up happiness wise. And if you don't agree it's about the numbers, talk about what you think really makes a happy (or unhappy!) family.

Contributing Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. She is a freelance writer and photographer.

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